How to Use Ball Peen Hammers to Texture Metal

What You'll Need
Ball peen hammer
Sheet metal or other metal surface
C-clamps or a bench vise
Solid work table
Wood mounting
Steel punches
Grinding stone
Metal buffing wheel

One really neat thing that you can do with ball peen hammers is to pound out patterns or textures into metal sheeting. The process is made simple and easy with this convenient tool.

Step 1 - Secure the Work Area

Secure the metal piece you want to texture to a solid work table with C-clamps or a bench vice so it won't move while your working. Select an appropriate set of ball peen hammers for the task at hand. There are many different types available, you will want to select one that has a head surface the desired size and shape of what you want imprinted. Be sure to clamp your metal piece to a wood mounting to help cushion the blows from impacting your table or workstation, simply place this under your work surface and clamp them into place.

Step 2 - Figure out a Pattern

Use a scrap piece of metal and your ball peen hammers to make specific patterns in the metals surface, practice makes perfect. Try and use different edges of your hammer to make certain indentations into the metal itself. The metals gauge or thickness is important to take into this as well, as too much impact on a thin metal surface can puncture it. You can also use different type of metal punches as well to create other effects, and in some cases literally engrave or draw into the metals surface. Another good trick is hammering both sides of the metal to make over lapping images and patterns on both sides that start to create a secondary pattern. Ovals and half moons can be made easily, space them out and try meshing them together on your practice piece until it looks the way you want.

Step 3 - Apply your Skills

Now that you have practiced with ball peen hammers on a sample, take this technique to your final piece using the same steps to make the texture and pattern come to life. This can be done on metal even before a part is finally welded together. You can work the sheet metal with a pattern and then cut it, shape it and weld it. Buff and sand the surfaces as needed and then tie the weld together with overlaying textures and patterns that match your original.

Step 4 - Cleanup

Once you have finished applying a texture to the surface of the metal with your ball peen hammers, simply remove the piece and look at it. Look for inconsistencies that you can pound out, or edges you can buff or smooth. The surface should not be abrasive, feel carefully for barbs that may be sticking out from the surface and pound them flat or buff them out on a grinding stone.

You can use the ball peen hammers to pound out uneven surfaces in the end stage where you are cleaning the piece up. You want to be sure that no one will get hurt touching it, or running skin across its surface. This technique is more for adding contours to the metals surface which will enhance its outer appearance.